When California school children learn about endangered habitats, they learn that bald eagles used to follow the outline of the Channel Islands to one of the birds' primary nesting areas. But that is no longer true. Now the few bald eagles still found inside the Channel Islands National Park have become one of the special treasures that draw visitors to Catalina Island, located off the coast of California.
When children learn about any Channel Island, they learn a new geographical term. They learn that a channel is a narrow body of water found between an outlying island and the nearby mainland. Most Channel Islands offer those who visit such sites a glimpse of a unique habitat. Hence children who pay a visit to any Channel Island come away with an expanded knowledge of both geography and biology.
While the United States has reserved one part of the California Channel Islands to use as a National Park, the rest of the world may be more familiar with a different Channel. The English Channel, a well-recognized geographical feature, also has some Channel Islands. These are called the Jersey Channel Islands.
The Jersey Channel Islands, like a Channel Island off of California, offer children some real treats. Many hotels on the Islands offer discounted fares for children under 15. Families visiting the Jersey Islands will also find that they have little difficulty locating either child minders or baby sitters. In addition, visitors to a British Channel Island find it possible to rent bikes for children, as well as the adult bicycles available for rent.
A particular treasure awaits visitors to the Channel Island town of Esplanade. There families can rent 4-seater pedal buggies. Children really get a thrill from a ride in one of these unique vehicles.
Any Channel Island located off of the British coast also offers children an instant history lesson. These Islands played an important part in several of the major battles of World War II. There was the Battle of Dunkirk, when many residents used their private boats to help rescue the soldiers about to be trapped on the French mainland.
And then again there was the assault on the European mainland that focused on the coast of Normandy. Preparations for this battle took place in Britain, and the attacking force left from harbors along one or more Channel Island. Now 60 years later one can follow those Channel Islands to the point where the tunnel crossing the British Channel begins its exit from the Channel waters.
This tunnel makes a trip to a Channel Island in Britain and is an excellent opportunity for the introduction of the magic of engineering. The tunnel under the British Channel is indeed an engineering wonder, a feature that many of us would have once felt to be impossible. Children need to appreciate the way that engineers challenge the constraints posed by geography.
Don't forget, all the engineering feats of tomorrow will be constructed by the children of today. Who knows what a future engineer might build on some Channel Island.